Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘scott westerfield’

Ugly by Scott Westerfield – Thoughts & Review

I decided to read this book because I’d heard multiple times that it was good and I have resolved to do the smart thing and keep informed about what’s good and bad in my genre. Yay for me and my step up in maturity level.

uglies

The premise is one of those dystopian “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. In this future, every 16-year-old undergoes an operation to make them gorgeous–and exactly the same as everybody else over 16. The main character, Tally, is looking forward to her transformation until she makes a friend with different ideas.

The writing is clear, a nice pane of glass, I suppose. I understand the appeal of the adventure sequence. A city girl can’t embark along on a quest of “evil” through dangerous wilderness without evoking a certain amount of thrill. I love the themes and the way the author uses them.

For me, however, the book was unsatisfying. The characters were not well fleshed-out. Their beliefs are strong and show through their actions, but the writing isn’t intimate for this alone to let them to come to life. I needed more little things, likes and dislikes, quirky memories, elements of crazy awesome reality.

Other parts of the book are told and not shown. For example, on a certain return trip, Westerfield deprives the audience of the development of the love story, saying “Tally can’t remember.” This annoyed me.

It also bothered me that the book was clean enough for a children’s shelf. Not a curse word, a speck of blood, or a raging hormone in it. They’re 16. Get real.

Kids looking for a fun read will like this book. Tally’s adventures are fun enough to show up in readers’ dreams. Those looking for high-level writing or strong emotional connection with characters, however, will be disappointed.

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Courtney’s Writing Nonfiction? What?

To be honest, I expect to get a bit of rap for trying to write anything memoir-esque at my age. I’m 18. What could I possibly have to say?

One of the best things I got from this last conference was a gentle reminder of the value of those years from Emily Sue Harvey. “It’s amazing that you write,” she said. “Not only that you have the drive, lots of kids have the drive. You have something to say.”

Her words surprised me. I’d never thought of that–having something to say–as my strength before. Then I thought about the number of nights I’ve spent lying awake just thinking about life, the times I’ve agonized about getting through situations without hurting others, and my uncle’s words about the emotional-literary power woven into my writing.

I thought maybe she was right.

So I’ve been looking for stories in my life, and I’ve finally struck gold. I’ve found a story I want to write so much it hurts. I’ve resolved to turn it into a masterpiece. It involves the World Scout Jamboree I attended in 2007. I’m dying to share it, even in its atrocious first-draft form, so I’m going to be an indulgent teenager and post the first paragraph.

The Teapot Boy

My first impression of the boy who would change me forever was as wrong as it possibly could have been. I remember sitting on the stage set up in that gymnasium, scanning the crowd and getting seized by a glare. That’s right. I was minding my own business, making drowsy conversation with the people lounging on the sofas where I’d been taking a nap, and a boy I’d never met before was staring me down.

On that creepy note, I must leave you for now. I’ll keep you update though. I’m very excited about it.

So excited that I didn’t feel like working on the reviews I should have written today. Sigh. Those will happen soon. I promise. The posts on the way are:

A review of In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan
A review of The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
& Thoughts on Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey

Jambo Picture:

Sword dancers from Qatar

Sword dancers from Qatar

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